A report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) examined the competitiveness of U.S. chemical research, echoing the government relations initiatives of SNM, the world’s largest society for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine professionals.
“Members of the Committee on Benchmarking the Research Competitiveness of the United States in Chemistry included information in their report about the potential negative effect of Department of Energy funding cuts to basic science research for in vivo molecular imaging and the need for domestic radioisotope production,” said SNM President Alexander J. McEwan, who speaks for the society’s 16,000 physician, technologist and scientist members. “The society can refer to this document—authored by some of the most prominent chemists in the country—as it continues to validate and promote molecular imaging and nuclear medicine needs for inclusion in the federal budget,” added McEwan, professor and chair of the Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Alberta, and director of oncologic imaging at Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, Canada. “SNM hopes that Senate and House appropriators take notice of the concerns raised in the report.”
NAS, through the National Research Council, released the report, “The Future of U.S. Chemistry Research: Benchmarks and Challenges.” The publication indicates that DOE funding cuts in basic chemistry “may destabilize U.S. leadership in the area of in vivo molecular imaging.” In addition, it notes, “there is no U.S. facility dedicated to year-round production of radioisotopes, severely compromising nuclear medicine practice and radioisotope R &D needed to advance targeted molecular therapy and other radioisotope needs for the future.”
The results of a separate NAS study that is reviewing the “state of the science” for nuclear medicine—a multidisciplinary science and medical specialty that uses radiopharmaceutical agents and radiation-detection instruments for diagnosis and treatment of disease and for biomedical research—are expected to be released later this summer. NAS experts—advisers to the nation on medicine, science and engineering—are expected to provide findings and recommendations on the future needs for radiopharmaceutical development for the diagnosis and treatment of human disease; future needs for computational and instrument development for more precise localization of radiotracers in normal and aberrant cell physiologies; national impediments to the efficient entry of promising new radiopharmaceutical compounds into clinical feasibility studies and strategies to overcome them and impacts of shortages of isotopes and highly trained radiochemists on nuclear medicine research; and short- and long-term strategies to alleviate such shortages.